For World Bee Day, Michela Scarello of Agli Amici in Italy pairs a local, cherry blossom honey with Taylor’s White Port.
Growing up on a daily diet of honey and bee pollen, and surrounded by abundant cherry trees, it was perhaps inevitable that Michela Scarello might one day combine these nostalgic flavors in a signature drink.
Yet while Michela – sommelier, hostess and co-owner of Agli Amici, a restaurant on the outskirts of Udine in the north-easternmost corner of Italy – tried to keep things local, she found using grappa and homegrown liqueurs had ‘too much personality’, overwhelming the cherry honey harvested by beekeeping collaborator Alexandra Moretti.
Her experienced palate led her further afield, finally chancing upon the surprise union of Italy with Portugal and Mexico. On closer inspection, this unlikely combination makes perfect sense. Taylor’s Fine White Port boasts a taste profile that’s practically reads like a honey itself – Taylor’s, which is eliminating herbicides and sowing select species alongside vines to stop more invasive plants taking root, is admirably bee-friendly – and añejo tequila brings a peppery footnote redolent of propolis, the dark, resin-like material bees make to protect their hives.
The final touch is a sprinkling of raw bee pollen – which Michela keeps in the freezer to preserve its delicate properties. The finished drink, she says, represents ‘the direct relationship between a flower and a bee’.
Stir the cherry honey and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker (without ice).
Add the port, tequila, rosemary sprig along with a handful of ice cubes.
Shake vigorously for 15 seconds then strain into a chilled coupe glass.
Garnish by sprinkling the surface of the drink with half a teaspoon of bee pollen. Balance some cherry blossom on the edge of the glass.